Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Giveaway

Blog tour, review, & giveaway: After They Go, by J. Mercer

After They Go 
J. Mercer
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

“…Mercer’s prose is lucid and her themes of redemption and reinvention are resonant…” — Kirkus Reviews

A large family saga set in a coastal tourist town:

One sister chained by family tradition.

The second stunted by her sister’s shadow.

The youngest propelled by desperation.

Gwen is the oldest of four children in the Aaldenberg family, and the one who seems to have it all. She’s also most desperate to escape. Betta, having nursed their dying grandpa for the past three years, is anxious for Gwen to go, so she can finally have reins to the family business. And Esmerelda, viciously determined to follow in Gwen’s footsteps, vies for popularity as a freshman in high school, only to learn she must sell her soul, reputation, and most prized possession for acceptance.
As their father struggles with retirement and their mother with depression, Gwen discovers the debt her grandfather’s passing left them in–and during a time of year when their coastal town, dependent on tourists, can barely sustain itself. Gwen and their father agree Betta can’t take over the store under such stressful circumstances, not when she’s been carrying the load for so long, and to protect Betta, they play it off that she needs some time to rest.
When Gwen’s fiancé moves to town, Gwen does her best to resign herself to a local life, while Betta struggles for meaning without the store. In order to carve out a place for herself, Betta must decide to what lengths she’ll go in order to become her own person, and Gwen must decide what’s more important: her sister or her future. Can this family pull through their disappointment, jealousy, and regret? Or will they cling so tightly to their desires that it ruins them?

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for J. Mercer’s After They Go! This novel details the inner workings of a family with a husband, wife, three daughters, and a son. Gwen, the oldest daughter, wants nothing but to leave their small town to live in the city. Betta has always longed to take over the family general store, going so far as to leaving college to return home, caring for her dying grandfather, and waiting for the store to be hers. Ezmerelda is trying to figure out adolescence, high school, boys, mean girls, and how to be her own person. Of course, Van – the only boy – has been with the same girl forever, is a football star, and loved by all. Combine all of this with their mother Wanda thinking the Dad, Harvey is cheating on her – this equals a lot of drama, heartache, and emotion.

This is one of those reviews where I could probably type away for hours and still not say everything that is going on in my head and heart. But I will begin with saying that this is a good book. Not just the story, but the writing. J. Mercer did nothing but impress me throughout the entire novel with her raw emotion, imagery, and how she completely exposed her characters down to the bone – even when it wasn’t in a positive way. She made all of the characters human in a way that was at times refreshing and at times, almost cringe-worthy. Nevertheless, she held nothing back. 

Considering my only sibling is an older brother, I couldn’t personally relate to Gwen, Betta, or Ez. Each of them desperately wanted something of their own, longing to be independent and make their own mark separate from one another. However, along with this came so much whining and angst that I wanted to scream. Although they all felt tied to each other, getting each others’ seconds, and so on – they were so incredibly self-centered it blew my mind. Out of the sisters, I think that Betta was my favorite, yet I still struggled with her because of their obsession with either being like the other or being completely different to make a point.

Nevertheless, I was completely engaged in this novel and was burning up the pages. I have to admit that a few things felt unresolved at the end, but after some thought, I am assuming that is how the author intended it to be. I do wish I could have gotten concrete answers regarding Harvey and Mae, as well as, what happens with Betta and either Brennan or Gage. But I still enjoyed this novel a great deal. I definitely recommend this to fans of women’s fiction and especially anyone out there with sisters!

I do have some remaining questions, first, about the title. I’m not sure how it applies. Maybe I’m just overthinking it? And also, Amazon has this categorized as satire. I taught English/Language Arts for thirteen years so I think I have a grip on what satire means, but why the hell is this considered satire? 

*Thanks to Xpresso and the author for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

J. Mercer grew up in Wisconsin where she walked home from school with her head in a book, filled notebooks with stories in junior high, then went to college for accounting and psychology only to open a dog daycare. She wishes she were an expert linguist, is pretty much a professional with regards to competitive dance hair (bunhawk, anyone?), and enjoys exploring with her husband–though as much as she loves to travel, she’s also an accomplished hermit. Perfect days include cancelled plans, rain, and endless hours to do with what she pleases. Find her on Facebook @jmercerbooks or online at

Website / Goodreads / Facebook



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17 thoughts on “Blog tour, review, & giveaway: After They Go, by J. Mercer”

  1. Thanks so much for bringing to our attention another great book out there to read. I appreciate hearing about them since I have so many readers in my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m on this blog tour too and I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. I also thought almost every character was whiny and wanted more out of what they wanted. Or what they thought they wanted. The only one I sided with was Ez aka Esmerelda. Gwen and Betta argued over that damn store I just wanted them to sell it and split the money four ways so they could all get the hell outta dodge and leave the stifling small town lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I agree about the whining! I think Gwen was my least favorite character, then I’m tied between Ez and Betta. Someone else that made me want to pull my hair out was Wanda (Mom). She just takes to her bed for 3 months because she can’t take whatever she wants from the store and max out all of the credit cards anymore?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IKR!!!! Although, Wanda’s depression I felt like was the most interesting because I felt like it wasn’t explained enough. Or there were parts where the author started to explain about her depression, but didn’t finish. Idk this book was a lot to handle….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m guessing it was somewhat normal because no one seemed to freak out about her being in bed from New Years until March??


      3. FYI Danielle, if you check out the comments on this post, the author, J. Mercer, provided some thoughts and insight on my review 🙂


  3. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the lovely words about my writing. I’m happy to answer all your questions? If you want? Or maybe a legit discussion about this book isn’t what you were going for. But, just in case… I did leave the things you mentioned that way on purpose (so the reader could pick their ending, for one example), but I would definitely have her end up with… oh, it’s really hard to do… like spoilers! If I were to write it out, she definitely would have ended up with the one who stays in town.

    Harvey and Mae were left unknown because Wanda never found out for sure, so I didn’t want the reader to either 😉 But it was an emotional affair, not physical – Harvey originally had his own POV, and you saw it all there, but that ended up just being too much, too many. And the title – Betta says it after the scene with James on her porch (“After they go, all you’re left with is you.”), also Wanda makes a comment early on about how it feels after the tourists go (“It was fact, that with fewer bodies on the streets, there was a subtle stillness in the air…”)

    I’m glad that though the characters were to some extent unlikable, you were still compelled to read about them – my original intent was that you would like Gwen in the beginning and not like Betta, but then feel opposite by the end – it very quickly didn’t work out that way, but became what it wanted to become (I know, writers say that all the time – it’s probably kind of irritating).

    Anyway, thanks for reading and reviewing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Thanks for the insight! I don’t remember Betta saying that about “after they go” but I do remember Wanda saying that so, that all makes sense! Regarding your intent for readers to like Gwen in the beginning and Betta in the end, I think for me personally, that’s exactly how it worked out. I started out liking Gwen and found Betta whiny. However, I ended up not liking Gwen at all and liked Betta! In my mind, Betta would ends with Brennan because he would be completely hers, rather than another hand me down from Gwen.

      One thing I can say for sure is that this book remained on my mind after reading as I sorted through it, as it also did with some of my blog followers. In my opinion, any book that I continue to think about and wonder about after reading, is one that was well-written!

      Liked by 1 person

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